CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Arkansas (42-19) opened the NCAA Chapel Hill Super Regional with a 4-1 win over North Carolina (42-21) on Saturday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium.
The Razorbacks are now one victory away from punching their ticket to the College World Series for the 11th time in program history. Arkansas can clinch the Chapel Hill Super Regional with a win tomorrow or, if necessary, Monday.
Arkansas starter Connor Noland threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings with six strikeouts, improving to 7-5 on the season while logging his ninth quality start of the year. The veteran right-hander threw 61 of 89 pitches for strikes while allowing only six hits and a walk.
The Hogs spotted Noland with three runs in the top half of the fifth, starting with Peyton Stovall's leadoff home run. The true freshman hammered the first pitch he saw over the wall in right center to put Arkansas up, 1-0.
After both Zack Gregory and Braydon Webb reached, Brady Slavens stepped up to the plate and collected his first of two runs batted in on the day. The Razorback designated hitter ripped a single to center, bringing home Gregory to extend the lead to 2-0.
Cayden Wallace capped the fifth-inning rally with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Webb from third as Arkansas took control of the ballgame by opening a 3-0 advantage.
Back-to-back walks to Gregory and Webb, who finished the afternoon with a team-leading three hits in the leadoff spot, to begin the top of the seventh gave Slavens yet another RBI opportunity. He did not disappoint, poking one back up the middle to score Gregory from third and put the Hogs ahead, 4-0.
The run support was more than enough for Noland and the Razorback bullpen. While North Carolina got one back in the bottom of the eighth on a solo home run, Evan Taylor (1.1 IP, 1 SO) and Hagen Smith (1.1 IP, 1 SO) locked down the final 2 1/3 innings in relief to secure Arkansas' 4-1 win.
Smith, who has been the Hogs' No. 2 starter for most of the year, earned his second career save on Saturday. The true freshman recorded his first career save against Oklahoma State in the NCAA Stillwater Regional final on Monday.
First pitch between Arkansas and North Carolina in tomorrow's game is set for noon CT on either ESPN or ESPN2.